Podere Belvedere, Val D'Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

The Drama Unfolds

I just returned home from too short a trip to Tuscany, where I went to meet some online friends for the first time in real life, show them a bit of the country and take some photos too.

Unfortunately, the Saturday was plagued by bad weather and constant rain, so we did a visit to the city of Siena, hopping in and out of museums and churches in order to stay mostly dry.

Seeing that the forecast was announcing sunny skies with a few clouds for Sunday, I made a plan to get up early and drive down to Val D’Orcia, a portion of Tuscany I had long wanted to see. For a start, we would try to catch a good sunrise in one of the most photographed locations ever, the so-called Belvedere, near the town of San Quirico.

Podere Belvedere, Val D'Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

Podere Belvedere, Val D’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy

We were clearly not the only ones to have had that idea, as we counted no fewer than ten other photographers on the spot. This was actually not a problem, given the expanse of space available and the many directions that the subject can be framed from.

Here are some tips for making the best of this fantastic location:

  • Early fall is probably the best season, as the leaves of the grapevines are starting to become yellow. In addition, it is likely that there will be haze, low clouds or fog in the bottom of the valleys that will glow in the sun when backlit.
  • Speaking of backlighting, you will be shooting towards the East or the South-East, depending on where you choose to place your tripod. This means that the sun will be in the frame or immediately outside it, as in this image, if shooting in the early morning.
  • This also means that it’s likely that the sky will be very bright. To counter this, use a Graduated Neutral Density Filter, or bracket multiple shots and do a HDR or blend them in post.
  • The farmhouse on the hill is pretty far away. This means that, in order to have it prominent in the frame, you must use a telephoto lens. This image was taken with a focal length of 55mm (82.5mm in full-frame-equivalent terms). Here below is a behind-the-scenes phone snapshot to show you my position.
Behind the scenes in Val D'Orcia

Behind the scenes in Val D’Orcia

Equipment: Fujifilm X-E2, Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

Exposure data: Three images at 1/50s, 1/100s, and 1/200s at f/8, ISO 200.

I am planning of use this image as the basis for the desktop wallpaper I will be giving to the members of my community for the month of November. If you would like your own free copy, why not join my community now? Aside from free wallpapers, you can expect to receive e-books and regular articles with tips like the ones in this blog post.

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